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Alfonso VIII (11 November 1155, Soriamarker – 5 October 1214), son of Sancho III of Castile and Blanche of Navarre, was also called the Noble or el de las Navas. He was the King of Castile from 1158 to his death in 1214. He is most remembered for his part in the Reconquista and the downfall of the Almohad Caliphate. After having suffered a defeat at Alarcosmarker, he won a decisive victory at Las Navas de Tolosamarker near Santa Elena on 16 July, 1212.

Cultural legacy

Alfonso was the founder of the first Spanish university, a studium generale at Palenciamarker, which, however, did not survive him. His court also served as an important instrument for Spanish cultural achievement. His marriage (Burgosmarker, September 1180) with Eleanor (Leonora), daughter of Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine, brought him under the influence of the greatest governing intellect of his time. Troubadours and sages were always present, largely due to the influence of Eleanor.

Alfonso died at Gutierre-Muñozmarker and was succeeded by his eldest surviving son, Henry I, named after his maternal grandfather.

Alfonso was the subject for Lion Feuchtwanger's novel Die Jüdin von Toledo (The Jewess of Toledo), in which is narrated an affair with a Jewish subject in medieval Toledo in a time when Spain was known to be the land of tolerance and learning for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. The titular Jewish woman of the novel is based on Alfonso's historical paramour, Rahel la Fermosa.


With Eleanor of England he had 10 children:


  1. Medieval Iberia: an encyclopedia, Ed. E. Michael Gerli and Samuel G. Armistead, (Routledge, 2003), 61.
  2. Medieval Iberia: an encyclopedia, 61.
  3. Medieval Iberia: an encyclopedia, 63.
  4. Vicaire. pp 89–98.


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